Goodbye Ordinary

I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, according to all that the LORD has granted us. Isaiah 63:7

Neat and Tidy August 24, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family,Life — Lori @ 9:52 pm

When I look back on my life, there is a clear pattern I can see.  It has often been my life’s goal to be “neat and tidy”.  Not just my house, but my life.  I like being in control of my world.  When Grant died I made a conscious decision to mess up my life a bit.

You see, I realized that I hadn’t been looking for God’s path for my life so much as I was only willing to do what would, in my view, be what I could “handle” (and keep things neat). 

It is kind of funny in that even though I thought I was content in my safe and tidy world, I rebelled inside against other people pointing out to me that everything in my life was “perfect”.  When people would make comments about us having the perfect family – one girl, one boy – I was thankful, but oddly annoyed by their observation. 

I am sure part of that came from the fact that I had wanted more kids.  God had closed my womb and one girl and one boy was all He had given us.  I wasn’t too thrilled about that to tell you the truth.  But, interestingly enough, it never occurred to me to pursue adoption back when the kids were little. (We had talked about adoption before we conceived the first time – thinking it might not happen.)  At the time I was putting too much of my effort into feeling sorry for myself.

Or, maybe I got used to, began to enjoy, feel safe, and in control of my neat and tidy life. 

Maybe it wasn’t a conscious avoidance on my part, but the Lord waiting to call us to adopt at a different place in our life.  Regardless of the why, I have realized that I have now made a decision to ask God for His perfect plan and purpose in my life – messes and all.  It is a daily surrender to God’s will and a forfeiting of my own.  (Some days I am better at it than others!)

I am so thankful that God prepares us for whatever He calls us to do.  I am sure all those years were just preparation for what He has called us to now.  And, my life now is undoubtedly preparation for whatever lies in the future. 

This sounds like a dangerous way to live, doesn’t it?  It is actually just the opposite.  Jesus demanded of those who wanted to follow Him that they deny everything that was important to them and leave it behind to follow Him.  Those that were unwilling to do that went away and back to what was so important to them in their life and they gave up Christ.  That is a really bad trade!

Is there something in your life that you are unwilling to let go of to serve Jesus?  I don’t think this is a one time decision, but a daily dying to ourselves and all we think of as important. 

Just a warning to all of you out there who know us – I think things are going to get REALLY messy!  In fact, I am hoping it just keeps getting messier and messier and that my entire view of life gets turned completely upside down.

Matthew 16:24-27  Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 25For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. 26For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul? 27 For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done.

Matthew 10:37-39  Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Mark 10:21,22  And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 Disheartened by the saying, he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. (Jesus speaking to the rich, young man after he had asked what he needed to do to inherit eternal life.)

John 12:24,25  Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. 25 Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

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Seeking August 22, 2009

Filed under: Faith — Lori @ 4:44 pm

From: Ligonier Ministries Blog

Finding God

by R.C. Sproul

We have all heard evangelists quote from Revelation: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to the unconverted, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.

So what? The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, “The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.” Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it.

When we are converted to Christ, we use language of discovery to express our conversion. We speak of finding Christ. We may have bumper sticker that read, “I Found It.” These statements are indeed true. The irony is this: Once we have found Christ it is not the end of our seeking but the beginning. Usually, when we find what we are looking for, it signals the end of our searching. But when we “find” Christ, it is the beginning of our search.

The Christian life begins at conversion; it does not end where it begins. It grows; it moves from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life. This movement of growth is prodded by continual seeking after God.

Coram Deo: In your spiritual walk, are you moving from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life? Are you continually seeking after God?

John 14:23-24: “Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me.'”

John 15:10: “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.” 

 

Are you a Pilgrim or a Settler? August 19, 2009

Filed under: Faith,Life — Lori @ 8:59 pm

From “The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood” by Susan Hunt and Barbara Thompson:

Living and leaving the legacy of biblical womanhood demands a pilgrim perspective.  Pilgrims live well and finish well.  In the finishing season, a woman’s legacy of relationships is intensified, and her doctrine is tested.  How we finish is determined by our theology.

So we do not lose heart.  Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen.  For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. 
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

A settler takes up residence.  A pilgrim is on a sacred journey.

A settler hopes in circumstances and opportunities.  She sets her sights on retirement funds and financial security.  She despairs the deterioration of the body and obsesses over health and appearance.  A pilgrim hopes in Jesus.  Her sights are set on eternity in His presence.  She does not deny the wasting away of the outer but rejoices in the renewal of the inner.

A settler believes that suffering is random and pointless.  She avoids encounters with her mortality.  A pilgrim understands the economy of suffering.  She knows that she is made strong by it and that a season of suffering is infinitesimal in the light of eternity.

A settler is terrified of death.  A pilgrim anticipates it.

Settlers are earthbound.  Lot’s wife was a settler, and she became a pillar of salt, “stopped, trapped, transformed as and where she was, in a still upright posture.”  Pilgrim daughters continue to be shaped, carved, and positioned to be pillars of support even in the finishing season.

Now my (Lori) thoughts:  I suppose I struggle to keep a pilgrim mindset.  But, like everything in the Christian life, we have to pray and ask the Holy Spirit to give us the will and ability to do it.  Jesus told his disciples:

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.  For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? Mark 8:34-36

Now THAT is a pilgrim.  It is not easy to see everything that has only to do with me on this earth as unimportant and only to focus on following in Christ’s example (a selfless love that led to His own death for our sakes) and being obedient to God in whatever circumstance He puts me.  And yet, if I do that (not in my own power but in God’s strength He provides me!) I am actually gaining eternal life.  This life is temporary.  We often put so much more importance on it than that.  Am I living with that truth at the forefront of my thoughts and actions?  That is being a pilgrim.

Just before the verses from Mark I quoted above, Jesus rebuked Peter for telling Him He shouldn’t die.  Jesus said, “For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.” (Mark 8:33b)  How can we set our mind on the things of God?

We MUST continually be in God’s Word.  We MUST remind ourselves of Who God is, what God has done, what He asks of us, and what His promises are.  We MUST be as the Psalmists who – although they may have been distressed – they reminded themselves of God’s character, His faithfulness in the past, and their hope for the future.

Psalm 111 
1 Praise the LORD! I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart,
   in the company of the upright, in the congregation.
2 Great are the works of the LORD,
    studied by all who delight in them.
3 Full of splendor and majesty is his work,
   and his righteousness endures forever.
4 He has caused his wondrous works to be remembered;
   the LORD is gracious and merciful.
5 He provides food for those who fear him;
   he remembers his covenant forever.
6 He has shown his people the power of his works,
   in giving them the inheritance of the nations.
7 The works of his hands are faithful and just;
   all his precepts are trustworthy;
8 they are established forever and ever,
   to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness.
9 He sent redemption to his people;
   he has commanded his covenant forever.
    Holy and awesome is his name!
10 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom;
   all those who practice it have a good understanding.
   His praise endures forever!

 

Adoption Paperwork August 17, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Faith,Family,India — Lori @ 9:55 am

I thought I would give you an update on where we are in the paper chase portion of the adoption.  Our Home Study has been completed, approved, and notarized.  This was a very important step in that once we had that we could apply for our I-800A – which is an application to bring a child to the U.S. on an immigrant visa.  So, this was all sent in about a week ago.  We should be receiving an appointment for fingerprinting in a week or two.

Once we are fingerprinted and run through the system, they will make a determination on our application.  It will undoubtedly be approved, it is just a matter of how long this process takes.  We were told two to three months, but I found out from another parent who just went through the process that it was only one month for them.

Once we have approval from Homeland Security on the visa, we can then send our documents – the dossier – to India.  I just received the final piece of paper that we needed this weekend so my dossier is all complete – unless I find out that I did something incorrectly, that is!

Well, the dossier is not completely complete!  Once we have our I-800 approval, we will officially receive a child referral.  There are a few pieces of paperwork that deal specifically with the child we will be adopting – Levi Daniel Schneider! (aka Sangeet)

Along with the referral, we will owe the remaining money to the adoption agency.  That doesn’t complete our financial responsibility for the adoption – there are other fees here and there and, of course, travel expenses!  But, it will complete the amount we owe the adoption agency for their fee.  We continue to trust in God’s provision. 

I wanted to talk about our decision to rename our adopted children.  We chose to give the girls a new first name, use their given name as a middle name, and then add a middle name with spiritual significance.  It is appearing to be a bit cumbersome having two middle names.  The girls do not want to use their Indian given names even as a middle name and get upset when someone does.  I assume having two middle names won’t be a horrible burden, but since their Indian names are the first name listed that is the default initial that is used for them as a middle initial.  They don’t like that.  We felt like if all those names were legal – their Indian given names, and the two names we gave them – that they could choose what they want to use.  And, that may change at different times in their life.

This confusion and – let’s face it, length! (Schneider is not a short last name) – helped us to come to the conclusion that we will rename Sangeet and not use his given Indian name as a middle name.  We are not turning away from his Indian heritage and we will not let him forget the name that his mother gave him.

One thing I have noticed about the new first name is this:  I think it makes the girls feel part of our family, chosen, and cherished by their new parents.  Parents pick a name for their newborn and although they are coming into the family at an older age, it is the same thing.  Mom and Dad are showing their love and excitement for this new arrival as they name him/her.  There is also a demarcation between the past and the present/future.  Not that every adopted child has bad memories to overcome, but that it gives them a line in the sand and represents a new start.  I also hope that it gives them an identity with their new family.

The whole naming issue is a hard one.  You can’t ask your child what they think when they come – they don’t have the language yet.  You have to make the name decision within a few months of them coming when you finalize the adoption.  You don’t want to start calling them one name and a few months later change to another one.  We asked the orphanage director to talk to the girls about new names and find out if they were okay with it.  I have no idea what she said to them, but I am pretty sure it wasn’t asking them if they were okay with a name change.  I think she liked the names we chose for the girls and she TOLD them that these would be their new names.  Who knows.  You are at a major disadvantage in communication due to the language barrier when you are in country. 🙂

How we handled it then, was to call them Sarsa Kalindi and Vanila Kira for awhile and then once we got home we changed to Kalindi Sarsa and Kira Vanila and eventually dropped the middle name.  That is just how we chose to deal with this issue.  It is a personal decision and I am not saying that choosing one naming procedure over another is a better way.  Everyone should do what they think is best for their child.

Prayer requests:

Pray for Levi as he waits – he has no idea that a family is working very hard to make him their son.  Pray for his safety and health and that the Lord would prepare his heart to be part of our family.

Pray for us as we prepare for Levi to come home.  Not just getting his room ready, but that our hearts and minds are being prepared as well.

Continue to pray for our paperwork.  The Lord is in control and we ask for His perfect will and timing.

Please also continue to pray for God to provide the finances for this adoption.  Levi does have a medical special need which means that we know he will need some surgery after he gets home.  We have his medical records and will visit our pediatrician once we officially have our referral and seek her advice on a specialist.  But, we won’t have any clear idea what is coming until he gets here and is evaluated.  We are very fortunate to have health insurance, but the percentage they cover has diminished over the years and surgery is expensive.  We, however, TRUST that God knows all this and will provide.  We have seen Him do it already!

I can’t remember if we mentioned Levi’s medical special need before. (As an aside, this is why India is letting us adopt again.  They have rules about adoption and already having two children from India is an automatic no, however, they will consider special needs to a broader range of families.)  Levi’s special need is basically a birth defect that has resulted in an urological problem.  It doesn’t appear to be very severe and he has already had some surgery to begin repair, but there is more surgery and treatment that is needed.

We know that God knit him together and knows exactly what Levi needs.  It is so precious to look at your adopted child and know that – although you didn’t give birth to them – you are sure in the depths of your heart that they were meant to be your children and that God had this in His plan since before they were even conceived!  Isn’t that amazing?  I LOVE adoption!  I LOVE our almighty, all-knowing, all-powerful, loving, gracious, merciful God who knows just what we need to cause us to grow in the image of Christ.

Blessings to you all!  Lori

 

India Festival August 16, 2009

Filed under: Adoption,Family,India — Lori @ 7:39 pm

After church today we went to the India Festival held in Pioneer Courthouse Square.  From the time we arrived at 1:30 until we left at 4:30, there was music and dancing going on.  It was fun to watch the colorfully dressed dancers and  enjoy the beat of the music. 

IMG_9241

There were several different booths selling Indian food and we ate our afternoon meal there after we had watched several of the dance groups.  We were waiting for Kalindi and Kira’s friend, Anjali’s group, to have their turn.  The three girls lived together for over three years at the same orphanage.  Anjali lives in Eugene, but we haven’t seen her in person until today.

Anjali and her group

Anjali and her group

I especially enjoyed a group of four male dancers who were from Portland State University.  They were very professional and good.  It was so crowded that the only spot we could get was behind the stage.

IMG_9244

You can see in the background just how many people were there for the Festival.  It was neat to see that there is a large Indian community.  We want the girls to feel like they are still connected to their home country and that they realize we support them in that.

L to R - Kira, Kalindi, Anjali, Julia

L to R - Kira, Kalindi, Anjali, Julia

We were all so inspired by the Indian music that on the way back to the car Kira said, “Let’s go home and watch the Indian movie!”  The only Indian movie we have is “Bride and Prejudice” a Bollywood type production (in English) based on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.  It is a fun, colorful movie and we all agreed that would be the perfect way to cap the day.

Have a great week!  Lori

 

There is No Other Way August 10, 2009

Filed under: Books,Faith,Quotes — Lori @ 9:20 am

From Elisabeth Elliot’s “Keep a Quiet Heart”:

In order to get to a place called Laity Lodge in Texas you have to drive into the riverbed.  The road takes you down a steep, rocky hill into a canyon and straight into the water.  There is a sign at the water’s edge which says, “Yes.  You drive in the river.”

One who has made up his mind to go to the uttermost with God will come to a place as unexpected and perhaps looking as impossible to travel as that riverbed looks.  He may glance around for an alternative route, but if he wants what God promises His faithful ones, he must go straight into the danger.  There is no other way.

The written word is our direction.  Trust it.  Obey it.  Drive in the river and get to Laity Lodge.  Moses said to Israel, “I offer you the choice of life or death, blessing or curse.  Choose life and then you and your descendants will live; love the Lord your God, obey him, and hold fast to him: that is life for you.”

When you take the risk of obedience, you find solid rock beneath you – and markers, evidence that someone has traveled this route before.  “The Lord your God will cross over at your head…..he will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.  Do not be discouraged or afraid” (Deuteronomy 30:19, 20; 31:3, 8, NEB).  It’s what the old gospel song puts so simply:

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey.
John H. Sammis

 

Death is Not Dying August 8, 2009

Filed under: Faith,Life — Lori @ 3:14 pm

I found this website about a 37 year old mom who passed away from cancer in July.  Here is the write-up on the Welcome page: 

“Rachel’s story is not unlike what thousands of women around the world have experienced. A diagnosis that changes a woman’s life and inevitably takes from her what we consider to be most precious.

After four and a half years of vigilantly fighting breast cancer, the 37 year old wife and mother of two was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

But for Rachel the essence of life is found in her relationship with God through Jesus. And that’s why Rachel is convinced that death is not dying.”

You can watch the presentation she gave to over 600 women about four months before she went home to be with the Lord.  It is such an encouraging and challenging and truthful presentation.  When you know you only have weeks to live, you are sure to speak the most important things that are on your mind.

Here is her bio from the site:  

“Rachel Barkey has enjoyed many of the best things life has to offer.

 As a wife to Neil for 10 years and mother to two children, she has both loved and been loved exceptionally well.

 As a businesswoman, an entrepreneur, and a writer she has known the joy of investing her life in something bigger than herself and the thrill of rising to a challenge.

 As a friend and mentor she has profoundly influenced many and been deeply transformed herself through the words, hearts and lives of those she loves.

Most precious to Rachel has been the joy of discovering daily the beauty of her personal relationship with Jesus Christ. A journey that started in her childhood, gained momentum as a student at university, and has been the source of strength, courage, and hope in her five-year battle with cancer.”

Spending the time to watch this video of her talk will be well worth your time.  The joy of the Lord radiates from her – even though she is walking through a very dark valley.

I also encourage you to check out the link I have on the right hand side with my other links.  It is entitled “Two Ways to Live” and presents the truth of the gospel. 

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

 
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